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9 Mar, 2022 13:34

Ukraine football bosses want Russia-based legend stripped of titles

Ukraine football bosses want Russia-based legend stripped of titles

Ukraine’s record international appearance maker Anatoliy Tymoshchuk must be stripped of a host of accolades because of his continued association with Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg and his failure to speak out amid the conflict between the two nations, officials at the Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) have demanded.

Tymoshchuk, 42, has been an assistant coach at Russian champions Zenit since 2017 – a club where he also spent part of a gilded playing career which included Champions League glory at Bayern Munich.

But after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine last month, the football authorities in Tymoshchuk’s home country have condemned him for apparently keeping quiet.

“Since the beginning of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, [Tymoshchuk], the former captain of the Ukrainian national team, not only did not make any public statements in this regard, but also did not stop his cooperation with the club of the aggressor,” read a statement from the UAF’s Ethics and Fair Play Committee on Wednesday.

“[Tymoshchuk] continues to remain silent and work for the club of the aggressor,” the statement added, claiming that “by making this conscious choice” the Zenit coach was “damaging the image of Ukrainian football” and breaching the UAF’s Code of Ethics.

Calling for punishment, the UAF committee demanded that Tymoshchuk be deprived of the coaching license he was issued through the organization, and that he lose “all state awards and honorary titles” as well as the haul of domestic titles he accumulated as a player at Shakhtar Donetsk.

The UAF Instagram account took a further potshot at Tymoshchuk, posting a picture of the former national team icon pointing into the distance, accompanied by a message which was seemingly a reference to the purported recent exchange between a Russian military vessel and a group of Ukrainian troops at a outpost in the Black Sea.  

Former defensive midfielder Tymoshchuk earned 144 caps during an international career with Ukraine spanning more than 15 years, and which came to end in 2016.

At club level, he began with hometown team Volyn Lutsk before joining Ukrainian giants Shakhtar and then moving to Zenit in 2007, where he helped the Russians to the UEFA Cup and Super Cup titles.

A similarly successful spell followed at Bayern Munich, before he returned to Zenit for another two years before seeing out his playing career at Kairat in Kazakhstan.

Tymoshchuk rejoined Zenit in a coaching capacity five years ago and has become an integral part of the setup currently headed by fellow former playing star Sergey Semak.

While Tymoshchuk remains at Zenit amid the military confrontation between Russia and Ukraine, the St. Petersburg club did agree to end their contract with Ukrainian defensive lynchpin Yaroslav Rakitskiy earlier this month.

Rakitskiy had come in for heavy criticism for joining the Gazprom-backed Russian giants in 2019, and did not add to his 54 international caps after making the move.

After Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine, Rakitskiy issued a social media plea calling for peace before ultimately departing the club. 

Notably, Zenit forward and former Russian national team captain Artem Dzyuba has criticized the pressure being applied to footballers to speak up about the situation, after he was the target of insults by some Ukrainian stars who play in the English Premier League.

“In stressful situations, people show their essence, sometimes negative,” wrote Dzyuba.

“How much anger, dirt and bile has now poured out on all Russian people, regardless of their position and profession…

“It is doubly strange to hear all this from people to whom Russia has given very, very much in their lives. All this only creates more negativity.

“The war will end, but human relations will remain. And it will be impossible to rewind. Remember this. 

“And to some colleagues who sit on their backsides in mansions in England and say nasty things: this cannot offend us, we understand everything! Peace and kindness to all!”